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CurlyStache | 3 Priceless Tools to Prevent Costly Lifechanging Mistakes

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3 Priceless Tools to Prevent Costly Lifechanging Mistakes


Unlock the untapped power with the basics

Get ahead of the game with 3 ELEGANTLY SIMPLE solutions to become successful with online SECURITY AND SAFETY 
There are hundreds of threats today, not just in cyberspace but everywhere you turn. It is vital to ensure we keep the privacy and protection of our loved ones, particularly our children and teens. For today, though, we will concentrate on online threats, what to look for, and what to do to ensure we protect our loved ones the best we can.
Man in hoodie on a laptop with cybersecurity words covering image
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Written By Daniel Currie
Published: October 16, 2023


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This week's blog is a PSA for what we must do to protect ourselves regarding technology since the Internet, smartphones, computers, and tablets are undoubtedly an everyday use for our teens—whether it be for entertainment, communication, education, or work. Staying vigilant with your teens on simple security measures and talking with them could mean the difference between having their digital life ruined, emotions and state of mind uprooted and put in a tailspin, and being confident and mindful of the potential threat of prying eyes.

#1 Rule to Embrace

Like the Internet: 2-way Communication

To begin, sitting down and talking with your teens is crucial. The younger, the better; if they use the Internet in any way, they need to know the potential dangers and how to stay sharp, watchful, and attentive to their surroundings. It is critical to ensure they are careful in what they do and the information they put on the Internet; being careless, oblivious, or even simply taking the power of the Internet for granted could be costly.

Daughter on laptop with mother overlooking teaching online safety

Furthermore, stalkers and predators are a real threat, with absolutely no way to know if the person on the other end of the screen is who they say they are. It is vital to ensure your young teen understands that unless they know the person in "real life," they do not know them at all, regardless of the online relationship and its duration. Explain to your teen that "online only" friends have the potential to do harm.


These are the stalkers and predators waiting patiently for their prey (AKA, potentially your teen). These people are perhaps the most camouflaged, discreet, and devious individuals for their craft as they search for the victim's weakness and exploit it; the worst part is that there is no way of knowing. Many stalkers and predators, despite wanting the desired outcome quickly, play the long game for weeks, months, and years to ultimately earn their victim's trust, making it much more important to stay sharp and diligent.


In addition, go over scams and online shopping. There are millions of scams and two terrific ways to weed them out. The first is to confirm the purchase or offer. Verify that it comes from a reputable company or vendor like Amazon. At the very least, it should come from a reputable sales platform like eBay. Additionally, it should ALWAYS have the padlock icon, typically in the address bar, indicating that the site is secure. It is also a good sign when alternate, well-known payment options are accepted besides standard credit cards; PayPal is an excellent example of this.

Secondly, and perhaps easier, if the item or service requires any type of payment, whether billed to your Apple account, your cellphone carrier, or ISP, or upfront via a credit card, simply have you, the parent, approve the purchase. It is highly recommended to do this because of the "read between the line" purchases. For example, your teen may find an ad for "FREE Ringtones!" and download it, not realizing there is an astronomical monthly fee associated with the download. Regardless, it then shows up on your credit card a month later. To assist with these situations, most devices, apps, and programs have preset settings allowing passwords or PINs to authorize purchases. In doing this, you are now ensuring that if anything happens, it is your responsibility, the mature adult, and not your teenager's. 

Father entering information in for frustrated teen at the laptop

#2 Rule to Embrace

Protect the Physical Stuff!

After the "Cyber Talk," it is just as imperative to have all physical hands-on devices secured with a password, PIN, or pattern. Biometrics are a good option, although they can be spoofed or inaccurate sometimes; needless to say, my teen has been able to use facial recognition to get into my phone because our appearances are very similar in the right light.

  • Password (best): 75+ characters to choose from. The more characters and symbols, the better. The more frequently changed, the better. It is complicated to hack and has no "guesswork"; it is either correct—or not.

  • PIN (good): 10 characters to choose from. The longer, the better. The more frequently changed, the better. It's easier to enter than passwords and is considered a good alternative.

  • Pattern (fair): Connecting Points, usually 9-16 points. The more complex the pattern, the more difficult it is to crack. It is easier to enter than passwords and PINs and is suitable for swiping on touchscreens.

  • Biometrics (not 100% reliable): Typically face or fingerprint recognition. It is easiest but not guaranteed, so the device requires a backup method.

  • No protection (100% vulnerable): If any accounts or apps are active on that device, depending on the account authorization, it could be as little as ruining your high score to as damaging as fraud and stealing identities.

#3 Rule to Embrace

Got Internet? Armor Up!

Sure, we can ensure nobody can hack into our devices with compliments of an excellent password or PIN, but what about all the data and information stored on the device? That's the thing about the Internet: it is a 2-way street as long as the device is connected to the Internet, regardless of how (i.e., hard cable, WiFi, cellular, or Bluetooth). Not only can you access whatever your heart desires, such as this blog article, but virtually anyone with the right skillset can access your device with or without the screen being on and unlocked.


There are 4 primary classifications of malicious programs that you and your teen should be familiar with and why being diligent in the Internet safety department is so paramount:

  • Malware: If it is malicious in any aspect, it is classified as malicious software, AKA Malware. Generally speaking, anything not classified as spyware, virus, or trojan horses (although they are also a form of malware).

  • Spyware: A type of malware where malicious software allows a third party to take information off your computer without your consent or knowledge. Examples of spyware (malicious software) include AntiVirus 360, UltimateCleaner, and Windows Police Pro.

  • Virus: Another type of malware, a piece of software or code that enters a device's operating system disguised as a program or app or attaches itself to a program or app upon its download. Its sole purpose is manipulating it into actions that damage or impede its performance.

  • Trojan Horse: Programs or apps that appear harmless or helpful to the user, such as utilities. Once installed, the trojan horse creator, AKA the hacker, inserts malware into the operating system to achieve the hacker's desired purpose.


Regardless of which type, it usually starts with the user downloading the malicious tools needed for the attacker to take control or acquire the targeted data without even realizing they did it. These downloaded, malicious codes often come in free apps or programs or from an unsecured and/or untrusted download source.


In the 2-way street, this is considered the first direction, or the download, where malicious programs, viruses, and hackers download their code into the device. Typically, when a counterfeit or sketchy app or program is downloaded without safeguards, the code or virus attaches to it and gets to work on the device or waits dormant for instructions from its creator.

Young adult man in gaming chair and headphones entering code into a computer

After the malware is downloaded, on the other side of the street is upload, where the malicious program, virus, or hacker will return the personal information they seek back up to their server or computer. Once that happens and the files return to the server or computer, the successful hack of your teen's personal and private data concludes.

Virus protection and device software and firmware updates are imperative to stay ahead of the game and prevent the successful closed loop of data theft from happening. For instance, the updates you see on your phone are for security updates and maintaining the

most current security definitions. Think of it like an actual human virus; with vaccines and immunizations, the virus will begin to weaken but, in self-preservation, will mutate to survive and, if left unchecked, will begin to thrive again, making booster shots essential—and the same goes for cyber viruses. They frequently change appearance, looking more and more like legit code. When a new virus is found, the "legitimate programmers" update their programs and apps to ensure the new virus doesn't attack. 


Suppose the app, program, or even browser is not properly equipped with a bit of armor to avoid unwanted visitors—or you keep deciding not to update your phone or tablet. In that case, the potential is high for carnage to the device and to your personal and private data, which could lead to identity theft or worse. This is why protection on your devices is critical; it's like Internet password protection for your device!


No matter how you slice it, with the amount of technology we use daily, it is paramount to stay vigilant in keeping our privacy, well, private! You could literally save your teens' identity and emotional crises by ensuring they understand the importance and seriousness of the Internet. Even though the Internet is a place to educate, communicate, entertain, and get lost in its infinite possibilities, you and your teen will be just fine with a bit of understanding and protection.
Teen boy in hoodie & glasses typing on a computer

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